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[General]-Skinning Tips and golden rules

Discussion in 'Tutorials' started by SaD, Mar 5, 2005.

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  1. SaD

    SaD Skincollecting Fanatic

    Sep 6, 2003
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    [General]-Skinning Tips and golden rules:

    Tutorial copied with the friendly permission from Identity Crisis .


    You can have all the video tutorials, pictures and downloaded walk-throughs you want, but if you don't know the very basics, you haven't got a hope. This list is in no specific order, and will be updated and modified all the time, so keep checking back.


    Don't use really shiny highlights with rusty metal
    Smooth metal, like chrome, reflects light really well. Rusty, corroded or dirty metal doesn't. It's not a glaringly big mistake to do so, but it's the subtle things that count. Just use large, weak highlights, or, if the rusted metal is flat, select the area and lighten it with the Adjust -- Brightness command.

    Think of how the light falls upon the 3-D model, not the flat skin
    The UVW layout of skins can be deceptive. Always use a model viewer and check your skin with it regularly to make sure the light is glinting off the right surfaces (off the top shoulder pad for example) and not literally "where the sun don't shine".

    Always give proper credit
    A fairly obvious one, this. If you use any part of any skin, photograph, painting, anything, make sure you ask and give credit in your ReadMe. If the author doesn't want you to use it, don't use it. If he or she allows you to, simply put a line in your ReadMe crediting them, with a URL to their work or an e-mail address. Add a separate "Credits" section to your ReadMe template so you don't forget.

    Don't abuse the standard filters
    Brightness, hue/saturation, sharpen - all these filters are fine and are necessary. But the Bevel filter and the hot wax filters especially should be left alone. They can both be done yourself with a little patience and the result is much more rewarding. They can both be spotted from a mile away. Of course, there maybe times when they are necessary, just make sure that they don't look too standard.

    Never work in a lower resolution than the final product
    Raises down, not up. If you're resizing down, often sharpening the image and then resizing can help get rid of a lot of the blurriness that occurs, better still, learn the 'Unsharp mask' function, and the rest you can touch up by hand.

    Make sure there is contrast
    If your character is wearing a helmet, make sure there is a dark line between the edge of the metal and the skin, where the shadow would fall. Even if the character is wearing skin-tight clothing, put a darker line between the two materials.

    Use smaller highlights, rather than large ones
    A lot of people make the mistake of adding huge bright highlights to metal. Take a look at something shiny in the room you're in and you'll probably notice that the glints of light are, more often than not, just little points of very bright light. The same should occur in skins.

    Use slightly different flesh tones
    Flesh isn't the same colour throughout the body. For instance, the face has many different tones. The cheeks, chin and eyes are generally warmer (red), with yellow and very slight green colours making up areas like the nose, forehead and eyebrows. Don't just use the dodge/burn tools - actually use different colours

    Make sure glints in eyes are in the same position
    Some face skins are mirrored down the middle. This can make it hard to make realistic organic skins. Others, however, aren't mirrored at all. For points of light in the eyeball make sure they are in the same position in both eyes. Find a photograph of someone, or look in the mirror. If the highlights are in the top-right area in the left eye, they will be the same in the right eye. If you decide to copy and paste an eye texture from one side to the other, make sure you change the highlights.

    There is nothing wrong with using layers
    Although it is always up to personal preference, you should know that layers to provide much more flexibility. Learn how to use them, especially adjustment layers, to increase the quality of your work.

    There is more than one way to make a shadow
    The Drop Shadow filter isn't the be-all and end-all of shadows. You can use the Burn tool, the Darken tool or even create a new layer and airbrush a subtle black onto it. This gives you a lot of control over where the shadow falls and how strong it is, as well as giving you the ability to erase some parts to create more depth.

    The face has the most character
    If your skin has a face (especially if it's an organic face), make sure it has real emotions. Don't have him or her staring blankly at nothing with no feeling in the eyes - instead, make them squinting or in pain. They are fighting a constant battle, after all.

    Make sure you have a focal point
    This isn't a necessity, but it's nice to have something distinguishing on your skin. The focal point may be the face, the chest or the stomach. This helps to break up what may be a busy or a plain-looking skin.

    Make eye highlights visible
    Nothing makes eyes stand out light a sharp glint in their eye. It gives personality.

    Don't just recolour UT skins
    Or other Skinners work for that matter. The point of skinning is to bring another character onto a model. Try and make the only similarity between your skin and someone else's the model. Don't simply modify someone else's work, because it'll look poor and people will know, and flame your sorry ass!

    Get a website!
    There are dozens of services out there that offer free web hosting with no hidden fees whatsoever.Use this to host your own skins, post progress, or even as nothing more than a place to store images to show people on message boards, mail, etc.

    Don't get down about download numbers
    Download numbers are often meaningless. FilePlanet isn't the only downloading centre. There are hundreds of FTP sites out there that you may not even know about that are hosting your work. Just because you haven't reached the top download lists in a week doesn't mean your efforts aren't appreciated. Keep at it, and spread the word.

    Take comments and criticism equally
    If someone criticise your skin and doesn't say why, just ask them! They'll be happy to tell you because it shows them that you're committed and care about what they think. When they say exactly what they don't like about it, take it into consideration. First and foremost you're doing this as a hobby, and you should be happy with it, but getting other opinions always helps. If someone praises your work, thank them!

    Use your own style
    This list and every single tutorial on the Internet aren't the definitive way of doing things. It's up to you to do what you're comfortable with.
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2005
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